The Poems of Siobhán Campbell

ae poetry1Editor’s note: Siobhán Campbell is the author of numerous pamphlets and collections of poetry, including “The Permanent Wave” (1996), “The Cold that Burns” (2000), “That Water Speaks in Tongues” (2008), “Darwin Among the Machines” (2009), and “Cross-Talk” (2009), which explores Ireland in the aftermath of its turbulent peace process. Originally from Ireland, Campbell has lectured in the Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts programs at Kingston University in London, England.

In a hurl of rain

in a heedless fog

in winds that are indifferent

did you think of yourselves

out on the edge of Europe

as a trammeled people

or was the scored pill

of bread in the mouth enough;

comfort of tongued nights

the slant scald of climax –

ae bookand what you thought of

in counting the days to blight?

Don’t bring haw into the house at night

or in any month with a red fruit in season

or when starlings bank against the light,

don’t bring haw in. Don’t give me reason

to think you have hidden haw about you.

Tucked in secret, may its thorn thwart you.

Plucked in blossom, powdered by your thumb,

I will smell it for the hum of haw is long,

its hold is low and lilting. If you bring

haw in, I will know you want me gone

to the fairies and their jilting. I will know

you want me buried in the deep green field   

where god knows what is rotting.

Giving the Talk
I know every stick and stone of this old road

every hollyhock and foxglove

where the flesh fly lays her eggs in devil spit;

which hedges harbour the blackthorn

and where to pick the best berries, high up

ae authorand low down. Like us all, round here,

I know which corner the articulated lorry

jackknifed, taking a shortcut off the main road,

scattering the limbs of the two Brady children

on either side. No-one put flowers

or one of those little crosses. Slowing down

on that bend, as everyone here knows,

is treacherous.

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